People are prank calling President Trump’s new office to report illegal “criminal aliens” — just not the type of “aliens” President Trump had in mind when he created the office.
Ever since the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office opened earlier this week, people have taken to Twitter to encourage calling and reporting extraterrestrials to the office’s hotline.
President Trump called for the establishment of VOICE in a speech to a joint session of Congress in February, “to serve American victims.” Trump said the effort was to provide “a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests.”
The VOICE office was created as a part of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which itself is part of the Department of Homeland Security.
“All crime is terrible, but these victims are unique – and too often ignored,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement.
The office says it’s not a hotline to report crimes, only for victims to gather information on things like “immigration custody status of illegal alien perpetrators of crime” and “the immigration enforcement and removal process.”
Critics and Trump opponents view it as an attempt to demonize all immigrants and say it’s racist.
ICE isn’t happy about the prank phone calls.
An ICE official emailed a statement to Fusion:
“I hope you won’t dignify this group with the attention they are seeking. But if you choose to do so … this group’s cheap publicity stunt is beyond the pale of legitimate public discourse. Their actions seek to obstruct and do harm to crime victims; that’s objectively despicable regardless of one’s views on immigration policy.
“The VOICE Office provides information to citizens and non-citizens alike regardless of status, race, etc., whose loved ones have been killed or injured by removable aliens. VOICE provides access to the same information you and other reporters are already able to obtain. Yet this group claims it’s somehow racist to give the same to victims of all races and nationalities? That is absurd.
“Further, openly obstructing and mocking victims crosses the line of legitimate public discourse. VOICE is a line for victims to obtain information. This group’s stunt is designed to harm victims. That is shameful.”
Despite the Trump administration’s drawing attention to crimes committed by people in the country illegally, there isn’t much evidence to suggest a prevalence of criminal activity among immigrants.
A study published online in 2013 said antisocial behavior — including committing crimes — “among native-born Americans was greater than that of immigrants.” Researchers found that “immigrants were significantly less likely to take part in violent antisocial behaviors as compared to native-born Americans.”
But modern research on arrest rates and immigrants is still limited, Burnett notes.
“So far, the research is not finding that the undocumented is offending or being rearrested at rates that are any different from the U.S.-born population,” Bianca Bersani, a criminologist at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, told him.